Review: Ghost Story

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The ending of this story saved it from being 2 stars in my estimation. I’d been telling lots of people that I viewed books 1-6 or 7 as the first arc of The Dresden Files. By the end of those books you’ve met all the main characters (both protagonist and antagonist). Book 7 or 8 until Changes was clearly the second arc. All the chickens were coming home to roost. Each story seemed to be building up on all the chaos that Harry had sewed throughout Chicago and the Never Never. This book can almost be read as an epilogue to the second arc.

Until at least halfway through the book, almost nothing happens. We’re dealing with the consequences of the end of Changes from Harry’s point of view. Around the halfway mark we FINALLY start seeing the consequences on his friends, acquaintances, and antagonists. But even then we’re still mostly spinning our wheels because Butcher needs us to truly understand the depth of what Harry has done.

To that end, Butcher also uses this book to fill in a lot of the details of Harry’s childhood. I think some of it was for perspective and some was maybe setting things up for the third arc.

Finally, in the last few pages we get resolution of what happened at the end of Changes. I have to say that my working theory for the entire about why Changes ends as it does was correct (from Harry’s point of view). Unfortunately, it did not have the intended effects. That revelation in addition to the literal final chapter is what redeemed the story and made most of what had come before worth it.

Before you read this book you will really benefit from reading “Restoration of Faith” and “Aftermath”, both found in Side Jobs and “Even Hand” from Brief Cases. It’s not required – Butcher is a good enough author to give you the information you need to understand the story, but you’ll get more out of it if you’re read those already.

I will say that, given the emotional rollercoaster of this book, it makes the first 10 or so chapters of the next book, Cold Days, very frustrating. It’s possible Harry is truly without choice or that the trauma of the events of this book caused him to forget some details until later in Cold Days, but you’ll see that in retrospect, his action (or inaction) is pretty callous.

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